Indonesia rebuffs claims it issues tourist visas for Israelis

Agung Sampurno, a spokesman for the Immigration Department of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, clarifies to Arab News that there is no tourist visa specifically for Israelis. (AN photo)
Updated 07 May 2018
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Indonesia rebuffs claims it issues tourist visas for Israelis

  • Israeli media had claimed that Israelis can apply for the visa through the “Israel Indonesia Agency” and that “talks are under way to let Israelis get their Indonesia visa in Israel.” 
  • Indonesia says the report was “wrong and misleading” and that the only way for Israeli passport holders to secure an Indonesian visa was through the “calling visa” process. 

JAKARTA: The Indonesian government said it was not issuing tourist visas for Israeli passport holders, debunking a report from an Israeli news outlet which claimed that it was accepting applications for tourist visas from Israelis. 

Agung Sampurno, a spokesman for the immigration department of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, told Arab News that there was no tourist visa specifically for Israelis as Indonesia already has a free-visa policy for nationals from 169 countries to enter the country for tourist or leisure purposes.

Israel is not included on the list since Indonesia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.

“Our visa policy has not changed in accordance with our foreign policy,” Sampurno said. 

Israeli news portal Haaretz.com reported on Thursday that Israelis could soon see the “gorgeous destinations” that they “could only see in the movies” by applying for a tourist visa to Indonesia beginning on May 1, and the report described the process as “expensive and lengthy.”

According to the report — which did not provide information from the Indonesian authorities — Israelis can apply for the visa through the “Israel Indonesia Agency” and that “talks are under way to let Israelis get their Indonesia visa in Israel.” 

“The news report that said Indonesia was giving out tourist visas to Israel is a hoax,” Sampurno said. 

The agency’s website was still accessible on Friday but was no longer so on Sunday. According to the website, a single-entry visa costs applicants $135, with which they can stay for 30 days, and an extension for another 30 days will cost applicants $35. 

According to the website, “in April 2018, the Ministry of Immigration of the Republic of Indonesia decided to open up a temporary visa quota for Israeli passports to travel to Indonesia under all foreign visa categories to determine the impact and potential of increased bilateral relations between the nations.” 

It also featured pictures of a white sandy beach with turquoise blue water and a destination believed to be Raja Ampat, a cluster of 1,500 jungle-covered small islands known as a divers’ paradise and located on Indonesia’s West Papua province on the eastern part of the country. 

“There is no such ‘Ministry of Immigration’ in Indonesia,” Sampurno said. 

A statement from the Foreign Ministry said the Indonesian government institution in charge of any immigration issue is the Directorate General of Immigration, which is part of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights. 

“The Directorate General of Immigration of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights of the Republic of Indonesia neither recognize nor has relations with Israel Indonesia Agency,” it said.

The statement also said the information in the agency’s website was “wrong and misleading” and that the only way for Israeli passport holders to secure an Indonesian visa was through the “calling visa” process. 

Sampurno said the calling visa mechanism is available for citizens of nations with which Indonesia does not have diplomatic relations. 

The decision to grant a calling visa involves a number of government agencies with the Foreign Ministry at the lead, and the conditions applied to a calling visa holder are very restrictive.

“The visa holder’s whereabouts is limited to a certain place. For example, if the holder stated in the application the place would be in Jakarta, the visa holder can’t go further, even to the suburbs of Jakarta, and the visa holder can only enter Indonesia through Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta airport,” Sampurno said. 

“There will also be constant monitoring from the authorities to the calling visa holder,” he added.


Rescuers search for 1,000 missing in Florida Panhandle after hurricane

Updated 31 min 4 sec ago
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Rescuers search for 1,000 missing in Florida Panhandle after hurricane

  • Volunteer rescue organization CrowdSource Rescue said its teams were trying to find 1,300 people still missing in the disaster zone in the Panhandle

LYNN HAVEN, Fla.: Rescue workers and volunteers searched for more than 1,000 people still missing in the Florida Panhandle and tens of thousands of residents remained without power on Tuesday after the area was devastated by Hurricane Michael last week.
At least 19 deaths in four states have been blamed on Michael which made landfall on Wednesday as one of the most powerful storms on record to hit the continental United States.
Volunteer rescue organization CrowdSource Rescue said its teams were trying to find 1,300 people still missing in the disaster zone in the Panhandle, according to Matthew Marchetti, co-founder of the Houston-based group.
About 30 to 40 people remained unaccounted for in Mexico Beach, according to a city councillor, Rex Putnal.
The mayor of the town of about 1,200 residents, which took a direct hit from the hurricane, has said that at least one person was killed, while CNN reported that another person was found dead on Monday.
With most Mexico Beach homes already searched for survivors, rescue workers were using dogs to find any bodies that might be buried under the debris.
More than 200,000 people were still without power in the U.S. Southeast, with residents of battered coastal towns such as Port St. Joe, Florida forced to cook on fires and barbecue grills.
At least 80 percent of customers in three mainly rural Panhandle counties were without electricity on Tuesday. Officials said it could be weeks before power returns to the areas that sustained the most damage.

CAMPING IN TENTS
Countless residents in the region's backcountry have struggled for days without electricity, running water or sanitation as they await help from authorities. Some have been camping in tents with whatever belongings they were able to salvage.
"I'm staying out here to try to keep away looters, to try to save what I can save," said Bernard Sutton, a 64-year-old cancer patient, who has been living out of a tent and broken-down minivan.
"This is everything we own right here," he said, standing over a heap of clothes, books, furniture and other belongings.
Access to those stranded by the storm was hampered by downed oak trees across highways and dirt roads.
"Everyone needs help. We're devastated out here. We're wiped off the map," said Gabriel Schaw, 40, gesturing to a handful of neighbors surrounding his own demolished mobile home in Fountain, Florida.
The state government is distributing ice, water and about 3 million ready-to-eat meals, according to Governor Rick Scott's office.
With top sustained winds of 155 miles per hour (250 km per hour), Michael hit the Florida Panhandle as a Category 4 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale on Wednesday.
The winds and storm surge caused insured losses worth between an estimated $6 billion and $10 billion, risk modeler AIR Worldwide said. Those figures do not include losses paid out by the National Flood Insurance Program or uninsured property, AIR Worldwide said.
Water supply was restored to some residents in Panama City on Monday but Bay County officials said it was not yet safe to drink.
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump visited the storm-affected areas on Monday, arriving by helicopter from Eglin Air Force Base about 100 miles (160 km) to the west.
They distributed bottles of water at an aid center in Lynn Haven, a city of about 18,500 people near Panama City in northwestern Florida.
"To see this personally is very tough - total devastation," said Trump, who later traveled to neighboring Georgia to see the storm damage there.